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Com Vietnamese

Today I met up with my friend at one of her favourite restaurants in Richmond. She frequents it enough to have the staff recognize her. Which is telling, in terms of her thoughts on the place.

I was excited to dine with her today, but getting into the restaurant would be difficult. Their free parking lot out back was poorly designed. It had small stalls that was impossible to get in to, if the stalls to its front and its right were occupied. Though through sheer luck we both managed to find a spot. Typically they are busy, but this Wednesday they were especially slow, which meant empty parking stalls and any table of our choosing.

Lit in twinkle lights and striped with red panels, the restaurant it is easy to spot driving by. Inside, the decor is modern. Bleach wood furnishings to match the bar. Glowing orbs and patterned lamp shades offered romantic ambiance lighting. We were seated at a booth with decorative tiles embedded onto its table top.

When it came time to order, my guest selected all her favourite dishes to share, and none of them disappointed. We passed on the more common vermicelli and rice plates, and pho; and opted instead for dishes more unique to “Com”.

These were extra crispy “pork spring rolls”, cut in halves and served with fish sauce for dipping. Filled with carrot, taro, black mushrooms and glass noodles, it had a herbal flavour and great crunch.

The fried “Chicken wings” were one of my favourites. We had a choice between having them caramelized in fish sauce or prepared with butter and garlic. We had the latter and it was amazing, and everything that I want in a chicken wing. Crispy skin, juicy dark meat, flavour through to the bone, and a rub that you want to lick off your fingers when you are done.

The “Fish cake soup” is the one I will recommend coming all the way for. A flavourful clear broth seasoned with the unlikely, but delicious duo of dill and tamarind. And not that it needs anymore flavour, but the herbaceous fish ball, the squishy fish cake, stewed tomatoes, fresh chilli, fried garlic, and fresh green onion give it even more depth.

“Com’s” Vietnamese crepe is my guest’s favourite rendition of this egg based pancake. Theirs is filled with spiced pork, prawns, green onion, and plenty of bean sprouts. And it came with instructions. Our server recommended that we cut the whole pancake down to size with the knife and fork provide. And then taking those thick chunks, and wrapping them in lettuce, to be dipped into fish sauce. It was bland as is, but amazing with a full soak in punchy fish sauce. It citrus and tang balanced out the predominantly eggy crepe.

To drink my guest ordered a fruit juice cocktail from off the “Booze free” menu. The “Typhoon” was passion fruit, lime, mint, and ginger beer muddled.

I had the steeped “Ice Vietnamese coffee”. It came all assembled with vanilla and coconut cream mixed in, over ice. They also have it available with the more common place condense milk, but I thought I would give this rendition a shake. I still got the flavour of the coffee, but with a subtle coconut cream finish. Good, but next time I will order it with condense milk instead.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
If I allowed myself to visit restaurants I like often, this would be one on the list. (I don’t because I rather visit new places to learn and write about). I enjoyed everything and now want to come back to see how good everything else is. It is a little on the pricier side for Vietnamese food, but it is certainly worth it for the flavours you get, and the full satisfaction you leave with. I highly recommend this one. Don’t deny your cravings.

COM VIETNAMESE
7688 Alderbridge Way #120, Richmond, BC V6X 2A2
(604) 285-2654

Le Marché St. George

My guest invited me to one of her favourite cafes. Off the beaten path, she deemed this a well kept secret, and a hidden gem. But with this post, I hope to bring it to the attention of many more. Not only do they boast a one of a kind setting, but they serve delicious crepes and unique hot beverages as well.

Located on a street corner in a residential area, parking is abundant and easy. But this two floor building has seen brighter days. With chipped paint, worn shingles, and rusted metal to add to its antique aesthetic, also farm-like rustic feel. Out back there was a rabbit hutch and live chicken roaming, behind wooden fencing. By the entrance, a trolly of pumpkins, garlic, and gourds for sale.

Inside, were many more curiosities to poke and peruse through. Knick knacks like “brains” in jars, dried florals, worn wooden toys, and small vintage kitchen appliances. There was also a collection of edible dried goods, canned preserves, and parchment wrapped sweets to shop. Maple syrup, artisan tea, all natural beauty products, and hand poured soap.

You order from the counter at the back, making your choice from the hand written food menu on parchment and the drink menu on chalkboard. You pay immediately and collect your beverage from the counter when it’s completed. For food, you get a table number and your plate is brought out to you when ready.

We grabbed a table outside and enjoyed the day and our meal under the cover of the awning and the shade of the sidewalk trees. The following is what we shared between three, appreciating the porcelain plates and the silver dish ware that cane with it.

The “Noisette” is a hazelnut flavoured espresso. It came with a foam top and a milk poured heart. And the “Espresso” was a stronger sipper that I found bitter and harsh.

I much preferred my “Creme brûlée fog”, which is like a London Fog with milk and black tea, but with the addition of caramel syrup for a sweeter drink. I didn’t get the cream or the burnt sugar indicative of creme brûlée, but I liked it just the same.

For food, our options were limited, as we visited after noon and they were all sold out of their croque-monsieur and chicken pot pie. So I went sweet with one of their “Roasted pear and brie crepe. I was reassured of my choice when the clerk behind the register said it was her favourite. Truth be told, I prefer my crepes plain, so found this one a little too sweet with the honey spread over the folded thin dough. On top was a slice of caramelized pear, covered in melted brie. A great combination, and all that I was missing was something crunchy, like crushed nuts coated in honey.

I should have gotten the turkey, fig jam, Brie, and basil savoury crepe instead. It had similar flavour opposites as the crepe above, but with the addition of salt from the turkey. I also preferred the flavour of the grainy fig spread with seeds, over the soften pear, as a pairing with the sharp brie. It was served with a lightly oil side salad, for a more fulsome meal.

The Tuscan lentil stew was the special of the day, it too came with a salad and some toast for dipping. This was a hearty serving of gritty lentils, bold in warming spices.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A really unique space to take in and enjoy alone, or to share a meal with a friend. Great aesthetics paired with a satisfying food. Don’t deny your cravings.

LE MARCHE
4393 St George St, Vancouver, BC V5V 4A3
(604) 565-5107
marchestgeorge.com

No. 1 Dumpling

Today, a small group of us were looking for something tasty and satisfying in the West Broadway area. We made “No. 1 Dumpling” our destination, given the posturing of its name, and the visual appeal of the photos of dishes offered, posted across the exterior windows.

This was a smaller restaurant with lower ceilings. Inside, a couple more photos decorated the walls, and a mural spelled out the restaurant’s dumpling-rich history in Chinese. We grabbed a booth in the corner, pushing enough tables together to sit us all.

The laminated menu was easy to navigate with plenty of full colour photos to help with the decision making process. The following is what we ordered as a collective, sharing it all family style.

The “Spicy sour potato” ate like a cold papaya salad, similar in texture and tang. It served as a good briny starter to get our appetites going.

The “Cucumber salad” was ordered for some balance. A slightly spicy, and fully refreshing break between all the carbs and meat below.

The “Green onion pancake” was a table favourite. Light and crispy dough fragrant with green onion. Good, but a little greasy on the lips.

The “Beef pancake” utilized the same dough, but filled it with tender bits of beef instead.

The “Xiao long bao” were as expected. Chewy pork meat with soup broth, in a firm but fragile shell. Tasty enough, but I wanted more soup to spill out when I took a bite.

I didn’t like how “green” the steamed pork and Chinese cabbage dumplings were. The flavour of the cabbage was overpowering, in my opinion.

I preferred the pan fried pork and leak dumplings, instead. A nice flavour with this crispy, chewy shell.

The “tofu with green onion” is exactly as you’d expect. The tofu was soft, flavoured in a sweeter soy sauce.

The “Spicy noodles” delivered with lip tingling heat from chilli oil, fully coating the eggy noodles. The shreds of cucumber and the whole sunny side up egg offered balance and freshness in an otherwise one-tone bowl.

As for the service, the lone employee was an older gentleman. He was attentive, checking in after and asking if liked what we had. He made us feel welcome. Which was helpful, considering the restaurant was fairly empty when we arrived and there was no music playing in the background to set the mood.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A cost effective and standup destination for dumplings and simple Chinese plates. Don’t deny your cravings.

NO. 1 DUMPLING
1888 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC V6J 1Y9
(604) 731-5577
no1dumpling.com

Jade Seafood Restaurant

Today I was touring around a couple of travelers from the UK, and we decided to start our day off with some dim sum in Richmond.

“Jade Seafood” is a fairly new restaurant with a modern, non-descript exterior. Inside, after a second floor walk up, there was enough glitz and glamour to confuse it with a high tea salon. Marble walls, ruched curtains, crystal chandeliers, and a light feature crafted using golden ribbon. This was an open room that easily converts, and sits everyone at a wedding reception. A live seafood tank and a fully stocked wine bar sits at one end of the restaurant. We sat at the other, by the large glass windows. On the vaulted ceilings above us hung adorned chandeliers that served as a juxtaposition, from the casual nature of share plates for breakfast.

My guests weren’t too familiar with Chinese cuisine, so I took the helm and ordered for us all. I haven’t been to this restaurant prior, so ordered based off of my previous dim sum experiences.

The restaurant offers both a fully Chinese and/or a fully English dim sum menu. But regardless, if you know what you want, majority of the staff are able to communicate and interpret in conversational English. The following is what we shared between 3.

The “Whole abalone and seafood dumpling in soup” wasn’t what I expected. This was a small bowl for one, with a chewy whole abalone and two wontons bobbing about. It tasted no different than wonton soup, with a clean and clear chicken-based broth.

As a great way to try a few different dumplings, the “Assorted three kinds of dumplings” is the way to go. “Steamed mushroom dumplings”, “Steamed crab meat dumplings”, and “Steamed shrimp dumplings”. They all tasted as expected, the same chewy wrapper stuffed full with its namesake filling.

As a fan of durian and gummy textures, the “Durian glutinous rice dumpling” was a delight. Sweet fibrous fruit, in a chewy sticky mochi-like shell.

The “Steamed Sakura pork dumplings” was just like regular pork dumplings. I got exactly what I expected from this classic dim sum staple.

The “Chinese donut rice roll” was crispy on the inside and chewy on the outside, a texture that is great with a double dip of the sweet peanut butter into tangy oyster sauce.

I really enjoyed the “Egg tofu and enoki mushrooms with vegetables” dish for both the taste and texture. The egg tofu was soft like pudding, it and the shredded vegetables were coated in a thick gel-like sauce for easy slurping.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A great spot for dim sum in Richmond. There are many others to consider, but this one is recommend by Tourism Richmond for their made to order dumplings. Don’t deny your cravings.

JADE SEAFOOD
280 – 2811 No 3 Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 2B2
(604) 249-0082
jaderestaurant.ca

Honolulu Coffee, Happy Hour

Other restaurants have Happy Hour, “Honolulu Coffee” has “Pa’u Hana”. Starting on Friday October 4th, the “Honolulu Coffee” on Nelson will host live music with drink and food specials, every Friday from 3-7pm. It may be fall and it maybe cold, but here they are on island time; and the tropical vibes certainly does help to warm you up.

To celebrate the occasion they hosted a luau and I was the first one to arrive for all the festivities. To set the mood, there was live music. Pop songs done on the ukulele.

And “Leis de buds” was on location with handcrafted real rose and real orchid leis. Guests were invited to dawn one around their necks, learning that the proper way to do so is with equal parts of the lei and its florals dangling in front and at the back. This is so that others will be able to enjoy its aesthetics from either side.

And when the pre-made ones were all handed out, the floral specialist began making more on the spot, as a demonstration. Utilizing a specially imported lei needle to thread blossoms together by way of string. The result, wearable art, and a keepsake to take home and dry.

The event spilled out the entrance of the cafe. And right at the entry way was a baby pig roasting on a spit. It definitely attracted the desired attention. Slow cooking since first thing in the morning, it was now ready for carving up and serving.

Its pulled pork meat would be the feature of their kalua pork burgers, along side pineapple and a tomato salsa. The pork was terrific, you can taste the difference cooking it over hot coals made. As for the burger as a whole I would have liked the pineapple grilled, the salsa less watery, and a sweeter mayonnaise to pull it all together.

Inside, a table was set up with help yourself small bites. A collection of their bar menu snacks and cafe favourites for everyone to sample.

In the Teri burger, I got the tangy mayo that I was looking for above. It paired well with the crispy shredded slaw and all the onion and cilantro, piled over a thin beef burger patty.

For something to crunch on and pair with their Hawaiian brewed beers by the can, I recommend their smoked “mixed bar nuts” with a sticky glaze.

I fully enjoyed the “Edamame coconut hummus”. A whipped spread served with pita. It gives you the sensation and texture of hummus, but with a whole new flavour profile to explore. Garlicky and coconut-y, I have had nothing else like it.

The “Lilikoi pineapple meatball” was a nice small plate to share. Served with tooth picks, they are easy to pop into your mouth. A bite-sized round of meat with plenty of cilantro, and hints of passion fruit.

The bacon cheddar scones are from their cafe side, a perk of having a bar within a cafe, you get to pick and choose from either menu that shares the same seating area.

The matcha brownie cubes were decadent, moist bites of chocolate.

But my favourite of all their cafe snacks is their guava bread. I ate cube after cube, recommending others to do the same. A moist cake with the flavour of the pink tropical fruit.

At the build your own açai bowl bar, guests helped themselves to scoops of frozen açai; and topped with as much or as little fresh fruit and dried ingredients as you wanted. Slices of strawberry and banana, whole blueberries, coconut flakes, and house made granola. Tart and refreshing, this made for a healthy dessert alternative.

At their bar they were serving cans of “Maui Brewing Co.” beers in Pineapple mana wheat or Coconut hiwa porter.

And for something sweeter and frostier, you can enjoy their “Hauoli Colada”, similar to a pina colada with tropical fruit juices blended with ice and rum. It was an easy drinking cocktail, made more enjoyable when served in one of their brightly coloured, novelty tiki mugs or pineapple-shaped cup.

We finished our meal off with a cup of their “Hawaiian latte”, exclusive to them and one of a kind with their specialty beans. It uses coconut milk and macadamia nut syrup to further their theme. And although you smelled more of it, than you do taste it, this was still a great indulgence.

They also have two new hot beverages for their fall offerings. The first is a “horchata latte” with cold brew coffee, soy milk, and cinnamon. The second, a “baked maple pumpkin latte” with real pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon, espresso, and milk; topped with grated nutmeg. They didn’t quite taste like what I expected. Not concentrated in horchata or pumpkin flavour, but a different interpretation altogether. I would have liked the horchata sweeter, and the pumpkin latte spicier. The latter was interesting with the addition of maple syrup. Maple, being a strong flavour that battled with the pumpkin as lead in the drink.

For more coffee, guests were invited to sample “Honolulu Coffee’s” newest roast, the “Peaberry”. This is one of the world’s rarest coffees, a lighter bodied brew with subtle sweetness and hints of mixed berry. One that you can take home as beans in a bag. It was recommend that we drink it as is, without milk or sugar. It was a delightful brew, and I can see why it has earned its accolades.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
In short, “Honolulu Coffee” will continue to be a cafe I recommend. Not just a regular coffee house, but one that features tropical flavours and transports you to a place much warmer and much further away. And now with happy hour and their own beer garden, there is even more reason to visit them soon. Don’t deny your cravings.

HONOLULU COFFEE
888 Nelson St g1, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H1
(778) 379-6607
honolulucoffee.com

 

Passions 2019, Vancouver’s best small food & wine gala

This past week marked the 16th annual “Passions” fundraiser. A night where local chefs and philanthropists come together to raise much needed funds for the Dr. Peter Aids Foundation. Through such efforts they are able to supply nutritious and much needed food for those in our community suffering from HIV/AIDS, mental illness, housing insecurity, and various substance use disorders. Each year they prepare approximately 96,000 meals for approximately 500 people. Everyone enrolled in the program has access to quality food twice a day. Enough to ensure that they meet their daily nutrient requirements, which is critical in helping with all or any “hefty medication regime”. The result, a program that boasts the best food for any social service program, anywhere. Through all their sponsors and all the donations, 100% of the funds raised went directly to the the foundation, which was a record-breaking $220,000 plus!

The night featured many of Vancouver’s best chefs and mixologists, living up to its reputation as “Vancouver’s best small food & wine gala”. The following is a recap of the night, as I ate and drank my way though all the offerings, and contributed to the good cause myself.

Held at “Performance Works” on Granville Island, the space was expanded and set up to host over 20 restaurants as individual tables, with stations to cook and assemble their small bites. As VIPs we were given earlier access to the event. An hour more to take in the food without crowds, and an hour more to drink; starting with a welcome glass of sparkling.

For the recap of the night through video, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

The following are the chefs and the restaurants they represent, as I ate through it all. To be honest with all the mingling and sampling, I didn’t get a chance to fully taste, critique, and take notes; so will only offer descriptions of what I can recall and that which stood out. But over all, there wasn’t anything I didn’t like, it was all dynamic, creative, and easy to eat as finger food.

Chef Richard Valverde was here representing “Ancora”. He brought with him an interactive “Manila clam ceviche shooter”. Made with aji amarillo leche de Tigre, and crispy quinoa. You stir it up, lick the rim, and take the fulsome contents down the throat in one go. Served cold, it was spiced well with citrus zest, and chewy with seafood.

Chef Hidekazu Tojo himself was on site, and as charming as ever. He remixed sushi with a duo of “smoked sablefish temari” and “geoduck gunkan”. No seaweed, but thinly sliced squash and cucumber used as a wrap with sushi rice instead. He called it “healthy”.

Chef Andrew Richardson from “Cin Cin” served up a vegetarian option in their “golden and chioggia beet salad” with whipped ricotta, smoked orange vinaigrette and pistachios. Fresh beets, salty cheese, crunchy nuts, and a light citrus dressing to bring it all together.

Chef Eva Chin from “Blvd” had “melon gazpacho” with lemon verbena, and variations of melon and fennel; served in little plastic cups with little plastic spoons. A cool, thinner soup, with a refreshing finish.

From “Copper Chimney” Chef Valentino Pereira had “quinoa chaat bites” with an avocado tamarind mousse. A crispy fried shell hiding a creamed centre, with additional crunch from the bed of puffed rice.

Chef Lee Cooper from “L’Abattoir” had a lovely “smoked duck breast” with beetroot and preserved blueberries. It was well balanced with fatty salty meat and sweet fruit.

“West’s” Bobby Milheron had a “geoduck tostada” topped with pickled Fresno chilli, green romesco, and cilantro. A crispy lime-forward snack to crunch on.

Chef Subir Ghosh from “Arc” had “pork rilletes” with fermentation vegetables and black mustard. A crusty crostini spread over generously with a chunk meat paste for a sour, tangy, and peppery two bites.

Chef Welbert Choi of “Forage” was serving up perfectly rounded “bison short rib arancini” balls in a chanterelle mushroom cream with rutabaga. A crispy fried battered ball of tender meat, fully flavoured with the distinct flavour of the chanterelle. Delicious.

Soon to open North Vancouver Restaurant, “Cantina Norte” was making their “Passions” debut with a fresh seafood ceviche from their chef, Jeremy Mitchell. Fresh shrimp, scallops, and white fish in citrus and aromatic herbs. Served on a flour tortilla chip with a spicy avocado mousse. This was my favourite ceviche interpretation of the night. The harder base made the seafood lighter and chewier for a nice contrast, and the spicy avocado mousse finished it off wonderfully.

“The Observatory” at Grouse Mountain had Chef Jack Chen on site offering up a “Chicken terrine” with cured egg yolk and a buttermilk sauce. A little dry, but very tasty with the yolk and peppery sauce.

A “Passions” regular Jean-Francis Quaglia was here representing his restaurant, “Provence”, with a “duck confit ballottine” and pickled BC cherries. The salty duck and sweet cherry were a great contrasting coupling, I just wanted something doughy to go with it.

I really liked the meaty canapé from “Notch8’s” Chef Dennis Peckham”. A “dry aged tataki” dressed with black pepper ponzu, spiced peanut, furikake, and shisho. Meat, bread, cream, and greens gathered together for a balanced bite.

“Market by Jean-Georges” has Chef Ken Nakano on location with “soy braised wagyu beef cheeks. Served on an airy fried prawn cracker, with a sweet and only slightly spicy Asian pear kimchi. Another meaty canapé I enjoyed, especially the prawn cracker that takes me back to my childhood.

Chef Marty Ra of “Pacific Yacht Charters” offered a hearty “Cambodian lemon chicken terrine” with a coconut lime foam, puffed rice, and cilantro. A little on the dense side, but tropical in flavour and fun in textural combinations.

“Honey Salt’s” Chef Jason Harper had a playful presentation for his “duck yolk gel”. It is best a mini cone to bite into, rather than lick from. Topped with orange segment, chive shallot, and a foie gras mousse it was salty and meaty, and the cone offered a neutral base.

“Joe Fortes’” Wayne Sych had a simple yet elegant plate of “smoked sablefish” served with a sweet potato hummus as a sauce, and pita crisps as a base. Wonderfully crafted, with great flavours and textures that went well together.

Chef Chris Andraza from “Fanny Bay Oysters” prepared a “smoked scallop ceviche” seasoned with chilli and citrus, served with a chunk salsa and pita chip strips for crunch.

“Minami” had Chef Alan Ferrer toasting up “aburi salmon oshi sushi” on the spot. Pressed wild sockeye salmon, jalapeño, and their trademark mayo-based Miku sauce. A menu staple and one I came back for, for seconds. Each piece also came with “Albacore tuna and kaiso seaweed tartare”. Beautifully prepared, but a little bland by comparison. Even with the spicy ponzu vinaigrette, wasabi creme fraiche, and a sesame wonton crisp.

Pastry Chef Betty Hung from “Beaucoup Bakery” had the only dessert of the evening: a “Plum and mascarpone verrinne” with a spiced plum compote, mascarpone mousse, and a hazelnut sable. It was a lighter offering, not too sweet or too dense. A great palette refresher and a nice end to all the food before it. Tasty with refreshing fruit and a salty cream to lap up with syrupy compote. It was best with the cookie garnish, I would have liked more of that crumbled up as a base.

As for drinks Katie Ingram of “Elisa” was here mixing her custom cocktail, “Boy in Berlin” featuring Ungava gin, white port, lemon, Riesling cordial, ginger beer, Bitter Sling orange and juniper bitters. It was pretty over ice, with a dried lime wheel and a rose bud.

“Bearface whiskey” was representing with the “Chicha Mule” featuring their whiskey with ginger beer and lime. A simply delicious mule.

The “1181 Cosmo” was named after the bar on Davie with of the same name. Vodka, Cointreau, cranberry, and lime; a strong drink with plenty of kick.

As we mixed and mingled, ate and drank, we heard from the fundraiser’s chair, and Dr. Peter’s mother. We heard the good our contributions did, and were encouraged to help further with additional donations and bids during the live auction.

Shirtless men sold raffle tickets to prize winning draws. The silent auctions were easy to bid on with iPads at every table, and an app to track whether you still held your bid.

But the main event was the live auction, offering up chases to win grand prizes and experiences like a sushi rolling class with Tojo, an island getaway, a giant bucket of pickles, and a multi course dinner prepared by and served by a team of handsome firefighters. All of the prizes above were donated in full, so for all the money they raised, 100% went to the “Dr. Peters” aids Foundation. I was happy to do my part, winning my silent auction bid: a night out to the ballet with an executive hotel stay.

In conclusion “Passions” is everything it promised to be, and more. A great night, serving a wonderful cause, rubbing shoulders with talented chefs and the city’s finest philanthropist. For more details, and how you can contribute to “Dr. Peters’s” cause, visit the link below.

PASSIONS 2019
1110 Comox Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 1K5 604-608-1874
www.drpeter.org
Facebook: DrPeterAIDSFoundation
Twitter: @drpeterAIDSfdn
Instagram: @drpetercentre
#Passions19

Anar Persian Cuisine

Today I was in Steveston in the afternoon. A walk around this city within the city, had me realizing how many different food options are available here. Not just the Instagram famous ones, or the ones that make it into television shows. But a wide array of cuisines, including the only Greek restaurant left in all of Richmond, “Kisamos”.

Although today we would be trying one of the newest restaurants to call Steveston home. A restaurant so new that they are still waiting on a permit to be able to showcase their entire food menu, which includes kabobs. They are the only ones in the area offering authentic Persian cuisine. But are already a familiar face in Richmond, once residing within “President’s Plaza”. Their new location only has them open between 12-5pm, so be sure to come for an earlier dinner or regular lunch. (Although, I am told that majority of the businesses in Steveston does close at 5pm).

Located in what use to be Steveston’s old court house, this refurbished building has been a part of history since 1925. Inside, the restaurant is pretty modern. Dark furniture over a black and white checkered floor. A few scenic photos on the wall, a shelf of books, and a laser cut room separator with matching art pieces. All in all it didn’t really have a theme, just more a collection of items to fill up the space; including the novelty salt and pepper shakers on each table. We were the first group of people to come in for lunch, a little after 12pm on a Wednesday. A few more came behind us.

The menu had dishes listed in their traditional names, with descriptions of what you can expect from them in English, underneath. Once again, this was only half of their intended menu, the full one will be available at the beginning of November. Without much experience or photos to reference, we relied on the lone employee who looked after the front of house. She listed all of their popular items, and we went with all her suggestions.

We started with their “Ab anar lemonade” with chia seeds. It wasn’t what we anticipated from a lemonade. It was sweeter than expected and rose water focused. It served as a great palate cleaner with our meal to come. Refreshing after all the other heavier flavours. I especially liked the texture the chia seeds offered: a fun chew.

We followed it with bread and two dips. Hummus made from chickpeas, garlic, fresh lemon juice, tahnini (sesame seed), and paprika. A solid rendition, great with the basket of warm dimpled bread sprinkled with sesame seeds.

The airy and foamy bread also made the perfect base for the “Kask o bademjoon”, grilled eggplant and whey, seasoned with turmeric and mixed mints; topped with caramelized onion. The fried onions were so fragrant, they added a nice crunch to the creamy yet chunky paste.

For our entree we shared the “Baqhali polow”. Braised lamb shank with dill, and fava bean steamed saffron basmati rice. The lamb and all the meat they use is certified halal, so tender it easily sloughed off the bone. Full of flavour, but a little too salty for me, luckily the rice was the perfect base. The beans added a different texture from the firm and long basmati kernels. And the side salad offered a crispy and tangy break. All in all a wonderfully done dish I would recommend.

With all that garlic in the 3 dishes above, the saffron rose water pistachio ice cream was the perfect way to clean our mouths and end our meal. This was a lighter treat with the floral essence of rose dominating. It reminded me of Turkish delight. The chunks of pistachio sprinkled over top and embedded within the ice cream offered some great crunch.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
A great offering to the Steveston community. Something different and something delicious. Don’t deny your cravings.

ANAR
12051 Third Ave, Richmond, BC V7E 3T1
(778) 834-1707
anargrill.com

Chef Tony dim sum

Everyone is always surprised to learn that I have never tried “Chef Tony’s” before, so what better chance than today. I was meeting up with two writers from out of the country. For one it was her first time in BC, for the other she is a frequent traveller from Seattle to Vancouver; and whenever she is in town and looking for dim sum, her go-to is “Chef Tony’s”.

Located in a plaza, the restaurant is easy to spot from the road, with plenty of free parking available by adjacent businesses. The exterior is pretty non-descript. But once inside, the bombardment of accoutrements has your head on a swivel.

By the door is a waiting area, made cramped by honey comb shelves showcasing plum wines and ceramic figurines. Wooden furnishings un-sat and a collection of celebratory photos of Chef Tony and his many famous clients.

In the dining area, glittering crystal adorned chandeliers hang above tables. Their rainbow shimmer reflects off the lacquered panels covering the walls and wrapping around the bar. Out of place were the segment of red that were peppered across; and the lone pillar that glowed blue with silver cross striping surrounding it. It all had the hallmarks of a night club or lounge, but for dressed up dim sum and small plates. Although the familiar patterned carpet and white cloth tables at majority of other Chinese restaurants, were also present. Made a little dressier with chopstick holders and spill proof spouts on their tea pots.

Mid day on a Tuesday it was packed, so our reservations came in handy. And these were reservations that actually held the table and allowed to be seated at the time requested. Not just your name on a list, and when you arrive you are the next in queue.

Each seated table is given a menu. A list with colourful photos with descriptions in both Chinese and English. Using it as a guide, you tick off what you want to order from the check box sheet. This latter is Chinese only, but with a bit of detective work, using the item’s numbers as reference, you can navigate the check boxes fine enough. The items we ordered were recommendations by Tourism Richmond, and what my guests found appealing based on experience and visuals. Tried and true staples, and fan favourites when dining with Chef Tony. The restaurant prides themselves on using high-quality ingredients for their dim sum items, with a focus on quality over quantity/size.

The “Black truffle pork and shrimp dumplings” is one of their hallmarks. They are smaller in size compared to most interpretations, but you also 5 instead of the typical 4. Their size is so that you can easily pop one into your mouth, whole. “Chef Tony” is one of the first Cantonese restaurants to use truffle in their siu mai. There was no missing the distinct truffle flavour in this little bundle. A fresh and delicious meaty bite with the smokiness of truffle to put a new twist on this staple.

Similarly, their har gao takes a tangent from all the others. “Shrimp matsutake dumplings”. They are the the only dim sum restaurants to use matsutake mushrooms in their har gow. The rich earthiness of the mushrooms changes the flavour with subtleties.

Not your typical dim sum fare, but an interesting dish just the same is the half order of “Marinated chicken trimmed with black truffle flakes”. A familiar taste in the cold, yellow chicken; but given a twist with the black truffle. A unique flavour that I found myself wanting to repeat, as you almost forget what it is like and need to remind yourself with another piece. I am not a fan of the greens, but was able to pick past them and enjoy the oily, cold, and tangy chicken. A unique sensation on its own, now elevated with the almost briney truffle flavour.

I enjoyed the classic “Baked BBQ pork buns”. Perfectly rounded dough baked to perfection and glazed with honey for an extra touch of sweetness. With it and the sweet bbq pork filling this ate more like a dessert. I could have used more filling and larger chunks of meats.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the “Steamed egg sponge cake”, this one came highly recommend and I can see why. Best served warm and fresh, an eggy and delicious sponge that is fun on the tongue. A neutral cake that kept you going back for chunk after chunk. I could eat a full serving by myself.

The “Coconut jelly dessert” is definitely one you order for novelty. They are so cute shaped like rabbits, but I wish the serving was a given a little more finesse in its presentation. As for flavour it tasted more like tangy yogurt than coconut fruit. I didn’t like it on its own and wanted some condensed milk drizzle or simple syrup to sweeten up the serving.

“Pan fried taro and preserved pork cake” I liked the flavour, but not the texture from the large chunks of taro. Not my favourite rendition.

The “Diced pork, chive and Chinese donut rice noodles” was a good one. I was surprised and delighted by the nice crispy texture of the fried Chinese doughnut. But wanted more depth from the dipping sauce. Either some sweetness from pork floss or the typical peanut butter, for a good mix of salty and sweet.

The “pan-fried diced pork pandan bun in casserole” came to the table smelling amazing; with sizzling onion against a hot cast iron dish, caramelizing. They looked good but lacked flavour. I didn’t get any pandan from the green bun, and wanted more filling to enjoy with it. If you like pandan, you will be disappointed with this one.

My guests fully enjoyed the “Baked durian paste pastry”. They liked the flaky pastry that crumbled under their bite. I found it chalky and the durian in it too fibrous. I also didn’t get the durian flavour I wanted from this, it was cooked, whereas I wanted fresh melt in your mouth durian. If you like durian, you may be disappointed by this one too.

The “Black squid ink salted egg yolk buns” is an item worth waiting for; and we did wait for it, literally. They forgot our original order and when we inquired about it, they forgot to look into that. Though we did eventually did get our buns steamed to order. The colour is striking, a deep black with a splash of gold. Inside a liquid filling that pools in the bun like water does in a cup. Be warned it is hot and we did burn our tongues with its custard core.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I can see all the hype. They offered creative updates to your dim sum favourites, and utilized elevated ingredients to dress up your meal. Definitely worth checking out and one worth visiting for those who love a dressier dim sum and truffle. Lots of truffle items available. Don’t deny your cravings.

CHEF TONY
101 – 4600 No. 3 Road, Richmond BC
(604) 279-0083
cheftonycanada.com

Interior Design Show 2019

2019 marks the 15th year of the Interior Design Show (IDS) in Vancouver. A trade show known for “Igniting innovation & celebrating design tradition”. It hosts and welcomes “individual designers, artists, makers and design-centric brands who have come together to showcase their current works, concepts and products”.

As my first visit and first time, I simply thought this was a trade show with vendors hawking carpet by the foot, light installations, and/or wallpaper. But this show is so much more than just a live-action catalogue, more than a space where you can shop for your next renovation or home project. There is plenty to see and do, and I highly recommend it for anyone who loves art and an interactive experience.

2019’s theme is “Design DNA”. “DNA is the building blocks of who we are, our identity. For IDS Vancouver 2019, each component, each varied shape represents a designer, concept, product, idea, moment, or experience – a piece of the overall DNA. Beyond the look and feel, the theme will be explored and interpreted in all facets of the show, including their onsite and offsite programming, special features and show floor activations.”

And “In addition to experiencing installations and features, there will also be opportunities to hear from some of the design world’s most notable and talented personalities and connect with a long list of world-class designers that either call Vancouver home, or call on Vancouver for inspiration.”

IDS is running this weekend from September 26-29 with additional parties and studios highlighting the design show at various locations. For more information on that visit the link below. https://vancouver.interiordesignshow.com/en/home.html

In this blog, I will only be covering exhibitors at the actual showcase, held at the Convention centre. A few of the highlights that were brought to our attention during the media preview, and a few of the displays that caught my eye as we explored the exhibition hall, as they were still setting up.

Right at the entrance is “A sense of place”. An feature brought to you by Benjamin Moore and a London based multidisciplinary artist. Emily Forgot looked at Canadian architecture when she combined shapes and colour palettes. You may recognize what was referenced, but it is all pretty abstract. Like the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre and the Museum of Anthropology. All 14 of these original custom pieces are for sale, with 50% of those sales going to “out of schools”. “Out of schools” is “BC’s award-winning education program that uses film and video with facilitated group discussion to engage students on issues of homophobia, transphobia and bullying”.

At the “Edible Futures” section you take an audio tour through a “what if” world. Artists envision what our food sources would be like between now and the far future, and go into detail on how we get to that place. It presents multiple perspectives on global food security issues like climate change, declining fresh water supply, loss of biodiversity, food waste, and the gap between producers and consumers.

Seaweed as a meat substitutes and dumplings filled with weeds and wild flowers. This travelling exhibition curated by the Dutch Institute of Food and Design and presented by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, will have you going “hmmmm” over your next meal.

LA based retailer “Poketo” will have a pop-up this weekend. They are best known for their exhibitions and workshops that foster their local creative community. Hear from their founders and shop a selection of their design-conscious goods.

“Seeds” is a sea of sented ribbon to wade through. Dutch eating designer Marjie Vogelzang. It tells a story from seed to bread, where the kitchen’s functions are broken down to reveal the ways that the preparation and sharing food drives human connection.

One I am excited about, that wasn’t at its full construction was “The Bistro and Wine Bar” presented by Kim Crawford. A sampling bar that takes guest through five distinct varietals in a visual setting reflective of its aroma and taste.

The “VIP Lounge” is designed by “LIV”, an award winning design studio that incorporates all aspects of design into their practice, including branding, animation, illustration, and CG artistry. This resting place has curated furnishings and accents to help create and “regal and relaxing” VIP experience.

“Prototype” is a curated showcase of the next generation of designers. It features products and objects not currently in production. You as an attendee can vote for your favourite and between these votes and a panel of judges, the winning design gets its own feature at Studio North.

The “Restock Central Bar” highlights the waste from the residential construction industry. Its goal is to bring awareness to the message of salvaging and reusing to help build a more non-toxic future. This space has been created with 80-84% recycled material, 15% has been salvaged, and only 5-1% will go to the landfill. It has been erected with no cutting and no drilling, but instead, connecting materials with clips or straps so that it is intact for future use. “Restock” was designed by “measured architecture”, and built by “powers construction” with salvage materials by “unbuiler”.

Here are some additional visuals that caught my eye.

In short there is plenty to see and do at this unique trade show. Treat yours eyes and your senses at the Interior Design Show from the September 26-29th, at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Jimmy Choo high tea

When I saw the advert for this online, I jumped at the chance to attend what sounded like such a bougie high tea experience. At my current income bracket I could not hope to own a pair of Jimmy Choo’s shoes, so this would be my way of getting close to that lifestyle. However, things were not as expected, and I would continue to feel luxury at arm’s length this afternoon.

The event advertised a Jimmy Choo themed high tea tower, a look at their new fall collection, and a free gift. And it was the latter that sealed the deal for me and had me reaching for my wallet. I was most excited about the promise of a free gift. Not only would it be a great keepsake, but it would make the whole $150 ticket price worth it. I was expecting a key chain or a sample size of their fragrance to take home. Instead, everyone got a gift card, in a box, placed on their setting. It was a $100 gift card to put towards today’s pop up shop. Sadly, majority of the diners already splurged on this, and were not planing on spending more on a handbag at $1500 or a pair of pumps at $2100. So as it was the case with me, many gift card went unused. Left in the box to expire in less than a month’s time. The gift card had many stipulations. You could not combine gift cards, one per transaction; nor could you use them towards a fragrance. And there are no Jimmy Choo stores in Vancouver so you only had a limited time to redeem the card. A month, which is the time the pop up shutters down.

So already this event was off to a bad start in my books. And from here I was extra critical, trying to find value in what I had spent, yet coming out empty handed. For the visual blow by blow, and all the emotions, check out my latest vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

This high tea service, like all others at Fairmont Vancouver is held on the 15th floor, which is their roof. It is a lovely building with an amazing view, but the interior here is outdated, and nothing was done to mark the exclusivity of the occasion. You can enjoy tea here anytime with out a ticket, so I was wanted more bells and whistles for the commitment and price.

The only thing different, that was set up for the occasion was the showcase of Jimmy Choo shoes and small bags. Had I known this was targeted more as a shopping experience rather than high tea, I wouldn’t have bothered purchasing my ticket. And here I thought this was catered to us regular folk, a taste of the food life through finger sandwiches, scones, and sweets. Needless to say, I browsed the displays, lusted after the shoes, then simply walked away.

From here I continued to be disappointed in our food and drink offerings. You were able to choose your tea options from a list of 7. The menu listed them as “Lot 35 teas”, a brand I am familiar with, and one that I enjoy the prestige and quality of. One that I also felt would have matched well the feel of the space.

However what we actually got was tea by “David’s Tea”, as shown by the tags from the bags. It wasn’t bad per se, but it wasn’t what was advertised, and it felt a little too everyday for the upscale dining experience I bought in to.

We did each get a welcome glass of sparkling wine. This was not Moët, despite the menu listing Moët as the only option, at $30 a glass, if you wanted another. Yet another mar on the experience.

The actual tea tower was a pretty display. But besides a few of the desserts, it didn’t read any different or all that luxurious, or specifically like Jimmy Choo. I wanted more embellishments from each individual item, and a tray that was decorated and/or branded accordingly. I would valuable this at $50-60 for this. So I pretty much paid the remaining $90-100 for the gift card I will not be using. Nonetheless, the following is in the order of which we had them.

“Smoked salmon salad” with crème fraîche, salmon roe, and profiterole. Shredded fibrous salmon stuffed into a chewy pastry shell. The salmon roe was the highlight with its juicy pops.

The “Heirloom tomato” finger sandwich was visually appealing. Neufchâtel and balsamic pearls on whole wheat. The flavour came from the vinegary pearls, you had to place them strategically in order to get its tangy flavour with the other wise bland tomato sandwich. Some salt and pepper to taste would have been nice as well.

The “Traditional egg salad” came topped with thin slices of cucumber. It offered freshness and crunch to the otherwise pasty sandwich. The menu lists watermelon radish and brioche; I only got a sliver of the former as a garnish, and was missing brioche all together. As for the egg salad mixture it was chalky and light on mayo. Whereas I want tangy and maybe a little pickling from it.

The “Coronation Chicken” was my favourite of all the sandwiches. It had the most flavour with mango chutney, chilli, pickled walnut, and Pullman. The pickled walnut on top was interesting, it didn’t taste like a nut, and it wasn’t briny like a pickle. It was soggy and ate more like mushroom in its heartiness. The chicken spread was a tad spicy, and there was no sign of mango or its sweetness present.

I liked the look of the “Autumn harvest pea hummus” with prosciutto and ciabatta, but not its texture. And I didn’t find the ham and the hummus all that complimentary. The hummus was a pea forward grainy mush. The saltiness of the prosciutto hidden behind this flavour. The tangy goat cheese helped to pull it together, and the peppery pea shoots I found too much.

My guest doesn’t eat pork, so they substituted the prosciutto option above with beats and cream in another profiterole.

We each got two scones. One buttermilk raisin and one apricot. Served with orange marmalade, strawberry preserves, and clotted cream. The scones were perfect, exactly as I expected with plenty of spreads to give me the flavour I wanted.

For dessert, the two tone pink stiletto “Vanilla sugar cookie” was fun. Not too sweet, a great treat.

The “Macarons” were disappointing. They weren’t fresh. The shells were hard and crumbly and the cream, cakey. They were at least pretty in gold. Gold dusted caramelia cremeux and gold leaf topped elderflower cream. Neither were too sweet. Missing caramel, but got chocolate from the former. The latter was more floral.

The “Chocolate tart” was an explosion of chocolate, featuring a chocolate crust, a chocolate malt ball, a solid chocolate calling card, and plenty of creamy chocolate mousse. The Jimmy Choo logo was a nice tie in.

The “Orange pound cake” was a playful interpretation of one of the available to purchase Jimmy Choo handbags. The shade of pink was off, but the uniquely shaped crystal clasp was a pretty good match. I found the fondant too sweet, but the cake within, pleasant. Hints of orange from a nice sponge.

The most impressive of the lot was the “Lavender scented panna cotta”. All the balls and circles elevate this, adding juicy pops of jelly chews, along side the creamy panna cotta. The floral lavender notes paired well with the cassis brittle gel and passion fruit pearls. But it did get a little like eating perfume, towards the end.

The service was at least fantastic. Our server was attentive. He checked in on us and kept offering to take photos of us. And when we looked like we had, had our fill, he offered to pack it all up to go.

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I expected a dip into luxury with this, and instead felt more on the outside looking in then ever. This was not for the every day person wanting to splurge, but a shopping experience for those who wouldn’t bat an eye at dropping $150 for a ticket to tea, and 2 more for each of their young daughters. Lesson learned, I will be staying away from ticketed high tea experiences for a while. Don’t deny your cravings.

FAIRMONT VANCOUVER
900 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC
(604) 684-3131
fairmont.com/hotel-vancouver

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